In one of the most highly anticipated tour stops of the year, Monday, March 6th saw the arrival of the Overkill, Nile, Amorphis and Swallow The Sun trek to The Fillmore in Charlotte, North Carolina. I know I was literally counting down the days for months now awaiting the date as I had not seen Overkill or Amorphis since the mid-1990’s and had never seen Nile or Swallow The Sun period.
See, Overkill are my favorite thrash band ever, of all time, bar none. Since I’d not seen them live since 1992’s Horrorscope tour, well, this was long overdue. Needless to say, The Fillmore was packed to the max as I entered the venue and prepared myself best I could for what lay ahead.
First to play was Finland’s Swallow The Sun, the first of two Finnish bands on the bill tonight along with Amorphis. I knew a little about Swallow The Sun but admittedly, I wasn’t extremely well versed with them. It didn’t matter in the long run. They were very impressive, playing a very emotionally charged blend of melodic doom not too far off base from acts like Katatonia or My Dying Bride.
Their set was great as they delivered at least six or so songs that included “New Moon“, “Rooms And Shadows” and their powerful set-ending “Swallow (Horror Part 1)“. Clearly there were many fans in the audience that were excited to see the band on U.S. shores, as they kicked off the night with an amazing performance.
The start from those Finlanders would be followed by their fellow Finnish metallers, the well established, folk-infused Amorphis. The last time I’d seen Amorphis was their sojourn to America for their 1994 release, “Tales From The Thousand Lakes“. It was with a different vocalist and line up back then. Knowing what I know about the band both then and now, I knew they too would deliver a fantastic set, and of course they did. Amorphis have always expertly blended elements of folk music, doom and melodic death metal into one unique sound that so many other acts have tried to duplicate without success.
Their set this night would consist of six songs from various eras of the band, they were: “Death Of A King“, “Bad Blood“, “Silver Bride“, “On Rich And Poor“, “Into Hiding” and “House Of Sleep“. Once again, a large number of Amorphis fans were in attendance. They received huge applause and crowd support from folks and were just incredible to witness.
Two down and two to go, as next up was another band that I only had limited interaction with over the years; South Carolina’s Egyptian-themed death metallers, Nile. Sure, I’m well aware of this legendary band’s respectable standing in the metal community; as for me, I’d only heard a handful of their songs throughout the years. I know band mastermind, guitarist/vocalist Karl Sanders, is a guy beloved by the band’s fans. That came through loud and clear as the quartet pounded through their musically brutal repertoire of intriguing historically themed tales of Egyptian gods and such.
Nile is nearing their 25th anniversary as an active part of the global DM scene. The latest incarnation of the band along side Karl includes drummer George Kollias, bassist/vocalist Brad Parris, and the “new guy”, guitarist/vocalist Brian Kingsland. The fact that 3 of the 4 band members provide vocals was something that added a whole other dimension to their brutal, technically astounding style of empowered heaviness. Nile delivered eight supremely syllabled songs, they were: “Sacrifice Unto Sebek“, “Defiling The Gates Of Ishtar“, “Kafir!“, “Hittite Dung Incantation“, “The Fiends Who Come To Steal The Magick Of The Deceased“, “In The Name Of Amun“, “Sarcophagus” and “Black Seeds Of Vengeance“.
The time had come… or should I say the “time to kill” had come for the legendary New Jersey neck wrecking crew Overkill to take the stage. And take it they did! Almost four decades into their blistering delivery of unique East Coast thrash metal, Overkill are as right on top of their game now as they have always been. With their eighteenth studio album “The Grinding Wheel“, recently issued through Nuclear Blast, whipping metal fans into frenzies everywhere, it was time for the guys to bring the pain to Charlotte. I was already well amped for the intensity about to take place.
Founding vocalist Bobby ‘Blitz’ Ellsworth, founding bassist D.D. Verni, current guitarists Derek Tailer & Dave Linsk, and touring drummer Eddy Garcia (Pissing Razors) unfurled “Mean Green Killing Machine” from the new album. The perfect introduction to this iconic act, whose traditional images and layouts use a Day-Glo green that’s instantly, easily associated with the band. From there the assault continued with a mix of cuts from their various eras, including “Rotten To The Core” (a fan favorite that elicited thunderous shouts of the title’s chorus), “Electric Rattlesnake“, “Hello From The Gutter” and “Goddamn Trouble“.
The crowd was in a state by this time. The pit was well activated when the band played the title track from their 1985 début album, “Feel The Fire“, then continued a powerful trip down recorded memory lane, with two tracks from the album I’d last seen them tour for in ’92, Horrorscope‘s “Nice Day..For A Funeral” and “Infectious“. Let me take this time to tell you, Overkill were unquestionably firing on all cylinders, on top of their game, kicking ass and taking names, and this show was making certain that we knew it! Another sonic wave riddled us with the oh-so fitting “Our Finest Hour“, “Hammerhead” and “Armorist“. Then we were given an extremely unexpected treat indeed as Overkill delivered a cover of Thin Lizzy’s “Emerald” (also quite fitting, heh) as their set closer.
Of course we knew it wasn’t over so the crowd began the resonating chant of “O-ver-kill, O-ver-kill” so loud it was deafening. Loud enough to entice the guys back out for the anthemic “Ironbound“. We barely had time to catch our breath as Blitz began bantering a bit again and quickly exclaimed the phrase “Runaway train to…” which meant the classic “Elimination” was on deck. The moshpit flared back up as bodies swirled about and the band delivered a vicious version of the track, followed by more musings from Blitz. Then we heard the first six words of that phrase we all know and love so well: “We don’t care what you say…“, and the life mantra reply with middle fingers everywhere, “Fuck You!!!”. They proceeded to close the show with their beloved cover of the infamous Subhumans.
‘Nuff said… what else needs saying when it comes to Overkill? You either are or you are not in with the ‘Kill, there is no in-between or sitting on the fence. As I said earlier, my all-time favorite thrash metal band had once again showed us all why they are the legends they are; why they continue to come back time and time again as one of the most persistent underdogs in metal history and give ya the beating of your life. Teamed with Nile, Amorphis and Swallow The Sun, this fourfold bill of superb bands delivered a show that should set standards for all others, each delivered their collective goods.
This tour is winding down now as I speak, if you are one of the blessed throngs that caught it, you know what I’m saying. If you missed it, then that’s your bad, other people and yourself should kick your own ass for doing so…. like if you went to the car after two Overkill songs.